OZZY, A VERY FINE FEATHERED FRIEND
The owl was brought to the Antiques Roadshow on the bus, went home in a taxi and has since become one of the programme’s most famous finds.
The owner arrived with it at Northampton’s Derngate Centre in 1989 and couldn’t remember how it had come into the family, only that it had been there for years. It had often been used without its detachable head as a flower vase.
But as soon as he saw it, and recognised it as being from the late
17th or early 18th century, expert Henry Sandon (pictured) could barely contain his excitement. ‘Surviving pieces of Staffordshire slipware are rare and desirable. This little drinking pot – the body would have been used as a jug and the head as a cup – is in feathered slipware, which is even rarer.’
The decoration was produced using slip, or liquid clay, which was poured on in a similar way to cake icing and given a marbled effect with a comb.
Clutching the owl to his chest, Henry said that he had never handled one before. In fact, he seemed quite reluctant to give it back to the owner.
Increasingly bemused, the owner was visibly shocked as he steadily increased the value from £500 to £20,000. ‘Well, I never’ was her only response. After filming, she took the owl home in a taxi, along with two policemen – much to the consternation of her mother when she opened the front door.
VALUED AT: £20,000.
CURRENTLY: Sold at London’s Phillips auction house for £ 22,000 to an agent acting for the Potteries Museum in Stoke- on-Trent. So the owl has returned home and, now known as Ozzy, lives in a special case in the museum, not far from where he was made in the late 17th century. The former owner used the money to help support five orphans in various parts of the world.